‘It’s a great shame’: Customers worried for future of town centre after Marks and Spencer set to close

Fareham Shopping Centre, where M&S could be closed
Fareham Shopping Centre, where M&S could be closed
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SHOPPERS have told of their concern for their town’s shopping centre after Marks & Spencer announced a proposed store closure.

Yesterday M&S revealed their store in Fareham Shopping Centre could be closed as part of its programme to modernise stores and meet customer needs.

Fareham resident Matt Donophy said: ‘It is a great shame they are closing and it will definitely be a blow to the shopping centre as a whole.

‘I think a lot of people come to go there and go to Debenhams and the other smaller shops so this could affect other retailers as well.’

The 57-year-old added: ‘The store always seems busy but perhaps people just don’t buy anything and probably then go online but for us we buy food from them more often.’

Wife Sally Donophy agreed the food hall was a pull for customers.

She said: ‘They have nice and good quality clothes for work but not really anything I would wear normally.

‘The food meals they have we buy frequently for my mother but it is quite expensive in general and we would never go there for our big shop.’

The news comes after Argos announced last week its store on West Street would be closed.

Meon Valley resident Pete Ward said: ‘I think people are now shopping online to get the best deals for clothes and electrical goods but it is surprising as M&S caters for the older generation who probably would not buy online.

‘But as one of the flagship stores in the town centre I am sure it will worry other shops.’

The store has been in the centre since it opened in 1976 but revealed yesterday the shop would have an employee consultation before the final decision which could see the loss of 58 jobs.

Mother-of-three Kirsty Murphy said: ‘Although it is not a shop I use myself, I think it will be a loss for those of the older generation especially since it is easy to get to.

‘It is sad especially for the staff and the shopping centre as a whole.’

Leader of Fareham Council, Councillor Sean Woodward said: ‘For the M&S staff in the shop it is a very sad day especially since I know some of them have worked in there for over 30 years.’

Sacha Berendji, Director of Retail at Marks & Spencer, said: ‘We don’t want any colleagues to leave M&S and we will work with each colleague individually on what is best for them as we endeavour to give everyone a role.

‘However, we accept in some cases we may have to consider redundancy.’

The store has an 82 year lease left on the unit at the centre and face having to find another company to sublet.